Canucks weather late short-handed storm, down Predators in shootout

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36), of Denmark, is congratulated by Nick Bonino (13) and Dan Hamhuis (2) after Hansen scored a goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, of Finland.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36), of Denmark, is congratulated by Nick Bonino (13) and Dan Hamhuis (2) after Hansen scored a goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, of Finland.

Photograph by: Mark Humphrey, AP

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vancouver Canucks were in a little trouble at the start of the game and Alex Burrows was in deep trouble by the end. But along the way the National Hockey League team continued to steam toward the National Hockey League playoffs by doing just enough to beat the Nashville Predators 5-4 in a shootout on Tuesday.

The Canucks’ sweep of back-to-back games to start a difficult four-game road trip — they won 4-1 Monday against the St. Louis Blues — pushed Vancouver’s cushion in the Western Conference race to seven points, their largest margin of the season.

It was the Canucks’ fifth win in seven games and ninth in 13. Even their long-hibernating second power-play unit has emerged from winter with two goals in three games. There’s a lot going right for the Canucks.

But an incident involving Burrows and Predator centre Paul Gaustad late in the third period could rob the Canucks of a little momentum heading into another big game Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

With 3:54 remaining, Burrows was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct after colliding with Gaustad away from the puck. Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa appeared to taunt Gaustad as he lay dazed on the ice, and the April Fool moment cost him a 10-minute misconduct that compounded his team’s problems.

The NHL will review the incident. Although replays indicated Gaustad, head turned back toward the Canuck zone, veered slightly left into Burrows’ path, there was concern around the team that the Canuck will be suspended.

After all, there has been a double-standard of officiating regarding Burrows since the Canuck was suspended by the NHL five years ago for claiming publicly that referee Stephane Auger, since dropped by the league, carried out a vendetta against him.

Burrows has rarely received the benefit of the doubt since then. Two weekends ago, the NHL chose not to suspend Los Angeles King Tyler Toffoli for cross-checking Burrows headfirst into the boards. One day later, Arizona Coyote defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was not even penalized for failing in his attempt to decapitate Burrows with the butt end of his stick.

Charlie Manson would get more protection from NHL officials than what Burrows has had the last five years.

“You’re always worried,” Burrows said when asked about the possibility of a suspension. “But it’s not for me to judge or forecast what’s going to happen. I’ll let the people who are in charge make the call and we’ll go from there.

“We did collide. My intentions weren’t to hurt him or anything. It’s tough to say; it’s a tough call. It’s not up to me really to judge if I thought it was a penalty (but) when they told me it was a five, I was pretty surprised and I was upset a little bit about it. But the boys battled and they found a way.”

Burrows said he thought Gaustad turned into him. Burrows didn’t raise his shoulder into Gaustad, but neither did he change course to avoid him.

It wasn’t the first nasty incident. Earlier in the game, Bieksa was penalized for contacting Viktor Stalberg’s head on a blindside check, but Predator Seth Jones got nothing for shoving Radim Vrbata into the boards then clubbing the Canuck on the back of the head.

“Gaustad just turned into him,” Canuck general manager Jim Benning said of the Burrows incident. “Burr was just skating up ice and Gaustad just kind of turned back and didn’t see him. Initially there was no call.”

Asked if he thought Burrows would be suspended, Benning said: “I don’t think (he) should because he was just skating up the ice and the player turned into him. We’ll see.”

Teammate Nick Bonino said: “We’ll let the league do what they do. But Burr was just hit viciously into the boards a few games ago and nothing happened there, so we’ll see what happens here.”

In his short time in charge of the Canucks, Benning has seen the standard of enforcement with regard to Burrows.

“Once we got the win, I felt better,” Burrows said. “You never want to hurt someone. (Gaustad) has been playing hard for a long time. I remember playing against him in the minors. He’s always been a real competitor and I hope he’s all right.”

The Canucks won because goalie Eddie Lack, suspect when the Predators raced to a 2-0 first-period lead, did his best work at the end of regulation time with his team short-handed. Vrbata and Bonino beat Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in the shootout.

Burrows scored on short-handed breakaway with a clever shot between Rinne’s pads to tie it 3-3 at 1:23 of the third period, then beautifully set up Chris Higgins for a power-play tap-in at 5:48. Mike Fisher’s tying goal for Nashville was an accident, a ricochet off his shin pad at 14:57 when Bonino hit him with a short-handed clearance.

“It was a fun game to play, but it wasn’t really fun the way we started it,” Canuck defenceman Luca Sbisa said. “It was a huge game at this time of the year and we faced a lot of adversity. We were relentless. Nobody gave up. Wins like this just feel huge and they’re important going into the playoffs, knowing you can come back against a tough team in a tough building.”

GAME ESSENTIALS

THE DEBRIEF

In a game that had a little of everything, including mistakes from both teams and both goalies, the Vancouver Canucks rallied from two goals down, blew a 4-3 lead late in the third period but won 5-4 in a shootout after surviving a five-minute major and game misconduct to Alex Burrows. The Canucks winger scored the tying goal earlier in the third then set up a go-ahead goal for Chris Higgins. Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata scored in the shootout.

TALKING POINT

The National Hockey League will be reviewing Burrows’s contentious collision with Paul Gaustad, which injured the Predators centre away from the puck at 16:06 of the third period. There was no call initially, but the referees huddled and assessed Burrows a major and game misconduct for interference. Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa compounded his team’s problems by taunting Gaustad as he lay on the ice and getting a 10-minute misconduct.

BY THE NUMBERS

After winning 4-1 Monday in St. Louis, the Canucks swept back-to-back games for just the third time this season. They finish the season with a 4-6-2 record on the second night of back-to-backs … Canucks goalie Eddie Lack was shaky in the first but finished with 34 saves, his best at the end of regulation when Vancouver was short-handed … The Canucks’ second power-play unit has two goals in three games after scoring only three times in the first 74.

QUOTEBOOK

“Guys did a great job. I think we kind of got rewarded at the end. I don’t think we played our best game. I don’t think our first period was worth anything. But everything after that, that never-give-up-mentality kind of got us the win.”

— Canucks defenceman Luca Sbisa

NEXT UP

The Canucks chartered post-game to Chicago, where they have a day off Wednesday before facing the Blackhawks on Thursday. The Canucks are 2-0 this season against the Blackhawks, who on Monday completed an impressive sweep of the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets in back-to-back games. Vancouver has had four games and three days off since last practising. The team’s four-game trip ends Saturday afternoon against the Jets.

imacintyre@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36), of Denmark, is congratulated by Nick Bonino (13) and Dan Hamhuis (2) after Hansen scored a goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, of Finland.
 

Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36), of Denmark, is congratulated by Nick Bonino (13) and Dan Hamhuis (2) after Hansen scored a goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, of Finland.

Photograph by: Mark Humphrey, AP

 
Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen (36), of Denmark, is congratulated by Nick Bonino (13) and Dan Hamhuis (2) after Hansen scored a goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, of Finland.
Nashville Predators left wing Taylor Beck (41) is congratulated by Seth Jones, right, after Beck scored a goal against the Vancouver Canucks in an NHL  game Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.
Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Vancouver Canucks.
Henrik Sedin #33 and Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks jump over the boards in celebration of a shootout victory over the Nashville Predators.
Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal against goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators.
Radim Vrbata #17 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal against goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators during a shootout at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Radim Vrbata #17 of the Vancouver Canucks takes a shot between the legs of Cody Franson #44 of the Nashville Predators.
Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators takes a faceoff against Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Dan Hamhuis #2 of the Vancouver Canucks fights Mike Santorelli #10 of the Nashville Predators for a loose puck.
Nashville Predators left wing Taylor Beck (41) is congratulated by Seth Jones, right, after Beck scored a goal against the Vancouver Canucks.
Nick Bonino #13 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against Calle Jarnkrok #19 of the Nashville Predators.
Yannick Weber #6 of the Vancouver Canucks takes a shot during warm ups before the game against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nick Bonino #13 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators.
Taylor Beck #41 of the Nashville Predators skates in to score a goal against goalie Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks scores a goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators.
Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators.
Yannick Weber #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Nashville Predators.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack, of Sweden, fails to block a shot by Nashville Predators’ Viktor Stalberg, of Sweden.
Colin Wilson #33 of the Nashville Predators takes a shot on goalie Eddie Lack #31 of the Vancouver Canucks.
Nashville Predators left wing Taylor Beck (41) is checked into the net by Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (2).
Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators.
Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Stalberg, of Sweden, right, celebrates after scoring a goal against Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack (31), of Sweden.
Vancouver Canucks left wing Alex Burrows (14) scores a short-handed goal against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, in the third period.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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